Council gives airport study its wings
The South Lake Tahoe City Council decided to let a study of the Lake Tahoe airport fly, but only if the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority agrees to share the cost.
The council voted 4-1 to hire Aires Consultants, Ltd. to investigate alternative management of the airport, including the possibility of a bistate airport district that could include the Minden-Tahoe and Tahoe-Truckee airports.
Councilwoman Margo Osti voted against the proposal because the $9,600 to pay for the consultant will come out of general fund’s contingency reserves.
“I made a commitment to the public since 1990 that the airport would not be a general fund obligation,” she said.
The contingency fund is money set aside in the budget process to be used for unexpected or emergency costs and usually totals about $200,000, said City Manager Kerry Miller.
Other members were supportive of the study, saying that some action must be taken to increase the viability of the facility.
“We have attempted to run an airport for a long time, and it behooves us to have an outside person look at it,” said Councilman Hal Cole. “The citizens of this community have told us to do something about the airport, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The study will look at three main alternatives to the current management of the airport:
— Joint Exercise of Powers Act – potential inclusion within the Sacramento International Airport system. Councilwoman Judy Brown asked if Reno-Tahoe International Airport and other local airports could be included in that aspect of the study, and that was approved by the majority of the council.
— California Airport District Act – potential bistate airport district.
— Contract management -will include the LTVA, a contract management firm and the airport’s fixed base operator, Oasis Aviation.
Advantages and disadvantages to each option will be provided in detail, including financial and legal considerations.
The LTVA is being asked to help fund the study as a partnership with the city in making the airport more cost effective, Miller said.
If the airport can run without the $300,000 subsidy is it currently getting from the city in promotion dollars, that money would be transferred back to the LTVA for marketing.
The LTVA Board of Directors has not yet decided to participate in funding the study, and indications are the board may reject the proposal.
If that happens, the contract with Aires would not be signed, and the matter would be brought back to the City Council with staff recommendations of possible options, said City Attorney Dennis Crabb.
If the LTVA agrees to share the cost of the study, it should be completed within 60 days. The city expects to have a direction for the airport by Sept. 30, when Destination 2000 recommendations are scheduled to go into effect.
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